He’s Just a Really Nice Man | Phil Rosenthal comes to the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival

My sweet fella and I both lost our jobs due to Covid, and like pretty much everyone I know, we turned to TV to fill some time. After watching all 21 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and becoming actual doctors (It’s a fistula! It’s always a fistula!), we were looking for a new show to binge.

I didn’t know who Phil Rosenthal was. I knew that I liked cooking shows, so I was perusing, looking for something that wasn’t competitive or angry. Something like Anthony Bourdain, because I missed him so much, and had already watched all of his shows. I stumbled across this man with really kind eyes. Somebody Feed Phil was the show. Joe and I started in the middle of the show for some reason, and I cannot tell you the joy that I felt when I saw his smile for the first time.

And he has a lot of reasons to be smiling. Rosenthal was the creator, executive producer, and showrunner for Everybody Loves Raymond. He loves to travel, and he loves to eat. And since 2018, Netflix has given him a reason to do both in Somebody Feed Phil, which follows Rosenthal as he travels to the world’s greatest cities, samples the food, and connects with the people who live there. That food and that connection brings him a lot of joy, and that joy is infectious.

I love cooking. I’m not very good at it, but I keep trying. I have a feeling that Phil would love whatever I made for him. You can see it in his eyes when he’s talking to the kids—trying to speak their language and praising them for knowing some English. This kindness, and generosity of spirit is in every single episode. We get to know his sweet and funny wife, his brother—RICHARD—and got to know his lovely parents before they passed away (may their memory be a blessing).

Following up the sixth season of Somebody Feed Phil (which just premiered on Netflix in October), Mr. Rosenthal has a book that just came out, Somebody Feed Phil the Book: Untold Stories, Behind-the-Scenes Photos and Favorite Recipes: A Cookbook, that captures this same energy and spirit of generosity. Featured recently on The Drew Barrymore Show, the book is filled with some places that he’s visited, beautiful architecture, recipes, and remembrances from his travels. My favorite part of the book is the photographs. We see the countries and cities he enjoyed, his lovely family and friends, and that fantastic smile. You can’t fake joy like that. It’s authentic and wonderful.

Phil Rosenthal will be in town for the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival, which runs Nov. 6-13. His appearance is on Saturday, November 5th, at 7:30pm at the Edison Gymnasium in the Staenberg Family Complex (2 Millstone Campus Dr., Creve Coeur), and while individual tickets are sold out, you can still access the event with the purchase of a festival all-access pass. Our city could use a little bit of that joy right now. We are all held together by the thinnest thread, and Phil Rosenthal is the kind of man who will tell you what a great job you did tying that knot.

He’s a mitzvah. | Melissa Cynova

The St. Louis Jewish Book Festival runs November 6–13 at the J’s Staenberg Family Complex (2 Millstone Campus Dr., Creve Coeur). For the full lineup, visit jccstl.com. For more on Somebody Feed Phil the Book, click here.

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